This week I have been thinking about shelter in unexpected forms. Take one of my boys, Homero, for example. When Homero was twelve years old, he came to live at Manantial de Amor, one of the children’s homes in Monterrey. He had gotten into a lot of trouble at various schools and even with the police. His mother was at a loss at how to handle him. A family member lived near Manantial de Amor, so his mother decided to take him there even though she lives two hours south by bus. After three years at Manantial de Amor, Homero moved in with us to participate in the Hope Program with Back2Back.
Most of us find it difficult to understand how a mother can take her child to a children’s home. And even more, we find it difficult to understand how God can shelter a child there. How a life without their family, a life in a group home can be a form of shelter. The reality is that for many of these kids a children’s home is a safer place than they came from. It’s not perfect, sometimes not even pretty, but for many much safer. This can be a hard concept for us to understand.
But for me when I look at Homero . . . it is so clear how God has not only sheltered him but continues to pursue him. Living at Manantial de Amor removed him from a dangerous path he was on. He was making bad decision after bad decision and thankfully his mother intervened. If she hadn’t, I think he would likely be in jail. God provided not only physical shelter, not only removed him from a dangerous path but provided Homero spiritual shelter. Through the spiritual influence of the director Edgar, Homero started a relationship with Jesus while living at Manantial. And now he lives with us where he has the opportunity to receive a solid education and spiritual influence, while experiencing family life.
Recently we had to tell Homero “no” when he asked to visit his hometown over the weekend. He had been back several times in the previous months and we were becoming more and more concerned with his trips there. From what information we could gather after the fact, he was making questionable decisions again, hanging out with his old crowd and spending little time with his mother while there. At his last request we both felt super uneasy about the prospect and decided to not let him go. He handled it well and even seemed relieved. Later he told us that he had thought God didn’t want him to go.
About two weeks later, his mother showed up unexpectedly. When she asked to speak privately with us, we were concerned she was angry we had not let Homero visit. Instead, through tears, she asked us to not let him visit his hometown any more. She too was concerned about his visits and decisions. She knew it meant she would see him less, but she was willing to sacrifice her time with him to ensure he stayed on his current path. She knows what opportunities he has here at Back2Back and she wants him to compromise them.
To me it’s so clear. God has sheltered Homero over and over again; through a children’s home, through Back2Back and especially through his mother. Many would look at her and judge her inability to parent. I look at her and see a woman who is fighting for her son the only way she knows how. It’s unexpected, it’s not what I would have picked but it is so clearly God’s shelter for my foster son. And I am thankful.